BMW’s most eye-catching offerings at the Frankfurt auto show in September won’t be a new car, SUV or motorcycle. Instead, it will more likely be a paint colour. That’s because the company has announced plans to show off the newly updated X6 crossover in light-eating Vantablack next month.
The Bavarian automaker will debut the third generation X6 in Vantablack VBx2, the self-proclaimed “blackest black," at the show, the company announced earlier this week. Vantablack absorbs 99-percent of light, making it the darkest pigment on earth.
Originally developed by Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, Vantablack was intended for use in space. The first generation of the colour absorbed up to 99.965 percent of light, allowing optical components coated in it to block out stray light from the sun and better capture images of faint stars and distant galaxies. (It was also the subject of controversy in 2016, after British Anish Kapoor purchased the colour’s exclusive rights, though Vantablack VBx2 is a slightly different colour.)
The “Vanta" in the name stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array and the pigment itself is basically a matrix of microscopic carbon nanotubes. Any light that hits a surface painted in the colour is almost completely absorbed and converted into heat. Because of this, it all but erases the three-dimensionality of whatever it coats, making something like the X6 look like a flat, two-dimensional object. Vantablack VBx2 is a slightly lighter shade of “super black" but it still manages to obscure nearly all of the vehicle’s design flourishes.
While Vantablack may make the X6’s curvaceous side panelling and rippled hood imperceptible, it does allow other design elements to pop like never before. The vehicle’s lighting package – its Iconic Glow kidney grille, laser headlights and LED taillamps – look particularly dramatic against the flat paint job.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like the Vantablack X6 is just a one-off right now. BMW claims it doesn’t intend to use the colour on a production car because it’s “a rather unsuitable vehicle paint finish." Still, it’s impossible to deny that the crossover has never looked as fierce, so here’s hoping that the company and Surrey Nanosystems reconsider.